Photography Basics - Rule of Thirds

Words by Scott Bourne - A Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

Most photographers have heard about the "rule of thirds" - a fundamental principle in photography that can help you create more interesting and dynamic compositions. In this post, we'll break down the rule of thirds into five key points that will help you understand how to use it effectively.

1. What is the rule of thirds?
The rule of thirds is a guideline for composition that suggests that you should place the main subject of your photo along one of the imaginary lines that divide the frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. The idea behind this rule is that our eyes are naturally drawn to these intersection points, which makes for a more visually appealing and balanced composition.

2. How to apply the rule of thirds?
To apply the rule of thirds, imagine that your camera's viewfinder or LCD screen is divided into a 3x3 grid. Position your subject along one of the lines or at one of the intersections, rather than placing it dead-center in the frame. This will create a more dynamic and interesting image.

3. When to break the rule of thirds?
While the rule of thirds is a helpful guideline, it's not a hard and fast rule. There may be times when placing your subject in the center of the frame is the best choice, or when breaking the rule of thirds creates a more interesting composition. The key is to understand the rule of thirds and experiment with different compositions to see what works best for your photo.

4. The rule of thirds applies to all types of photography
The rule of thirds is often associated with portrait photography, but it can be applied to other types of photography as well. For example, when photographing landscapes, you might position the horizon line along one of the horizontal lines in the grid, while placing a tree or other prominent feature along one of the vertical lines.

5. Practice makes perfect
As with any skill in photography, the more you practice using the rule of thirds, the more natural it will become. Experiment with different compositions and subject placements, and pay attention to how the rule of thirds affects the overall look and feel of your photos.

The rule of thirds is a powerful guideline for composition in photography. By placing your subject along one of the imaginary lines or intersections in the 3x3 grid, you can create more interesting and dynamic photos. However, it's important to remember that the rule of thirds is just one tool in your photographic toolkit, and there may be times when breaking the rule creates a more effective composition. With practice and experimentation, you can learn to use the rule of thirds to create stunning photographs that tell a story and capture the beauty of the world around us.